The Star Touched Queen by Roshani Chokshi
3 / 5 stars
What a strange yet beautiful book. This is one of those books where if you were to ask me to rate the writing alone it would get a solid five stars, but when you look critically at the plot and characters there are definitely issues. The Star Touched Queen tells the story of 17 year old Maya, a princess cursed since birth by her horoscope. In an attempt to save his kingdom, the Raja arranges for Maya to be married. From there the story unravels into an epic romance spanning both time and different magical realms. Steeped heavily in Indian/Hindu mythology, the book has the familiarity and whimsy of a childhood fairy tale.
The writing is stunningly beautiful with a lyrical and romantic quality. Although the book is short, I wouldn’t put this in the category of a quick read. The descriptions were so lush I found myself slowing down and savoring each detail.
Neither the secret whirring song of the stars nor the sonorous canticles of the earth knew the language that sprang up in the space between us. It was a dialect of heartbeats, strung together with the lilt of long suffering and the incandescent hope of an infinite future.
It is the writing that carries this book and it’s why I think so many people fell head over heels for this story.
It offers a unique setting worth getting lost in for hours. The world that Chokshi has created reads like a fantastical dream. Everything is glittering, beautiful, and magical. There are trees that bear fruit made of gems. There is a bazaar always half in daylight and half shrouded by night. There is a tapestry that weaves together all the fates of the world. Even the human world, set in a fictional Arabic country, feels special and unlike anything else I’ve read.
The plot meanders with no clear direction. In the middle of the book the story, when Maya has married her new husband, the story comes to a halt. At least for awhile. We spend chapters where the princess just wanders through the palace, opening doors and exploring. It was during these times I found it difficult to see where the story was headed and therefore didn’t feel motivated to keep reading. I also felt like there were plot points that came out of nowhere sometimes, making it difficult to follow. Sometimes the action of the story was weighed down by the descriptive prose, and I found myself rereading pages to understand what was going on.
I never found myself rooting for the love story. This story is supposed to be all about love, but Amar, Maya’s husband, fell flat for me. He didn’t read like a real person with any flaws. There connection felt forced in my opinion. Basically the author tells us they are soul mates and therefore they love each other. As readers we’re supposed to just get on board with no evidence of why this love exists or why they are so perfect for each other.
Overall, I enjoyed this book and I am looking forward to reading Crown of Wishes, if for nothing but the gorgeous writing. Fans of fantasy that leans more towards romantic fairy tale and less towards action-packed high fantasy will love this.